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B.C. under fire after accounting firm accused of conflict in running grant

SAANICH, B.C. — British Columbia Premier David Eby says the government has asked the auditor general to review the province’s grant programs after allegations of conflict-of-interest from a clean-technology company.

The development comes after Merritt, B.C.-based electric-hybrid truck maker Edison Motors said in a TikTok video that accounting firm MNP was both administering a CleanBC grant and offering to provide services to aid businesses in applications. 

In a written statement, MNP says it cannot comment on specific grant applications due to privacy and legal requirements, but it is aware of the allegations and calls them “false and misleading.”

The statement says MNP policies prohibit team members from “providing grant writing services” for the programs the firm administers, and its work on behalf of CleanBC “is no different.”

In a social media post, Opposition BC United MLA Elenore Sturko criticized the NDP government for failing to launch an audit last week when a motion to investigate the circumstances first surfaced at the legislature.

Conservative Leader John Rustad goes further, calling for an RCMP investigation into “allegations of corruption” in the provincial grant program.

“We don’t know why this alleged self-dealing by MNP was allowed to happen, but we do know that MNP has lobbied Premier Eby’s government and was allowed to distribute these funds,” Rustad says in a statement.

Eby says the government originally reviewed the information available in the case and found that it “didn’t have concerns on the initial information.”

However, Eby says Edison Motors’ TikTok video, which surfaced late last week, provided “additional information” that “deepened the concern.”

“There are a huge number of applicants for these grants,” Eby says. “People will be successful and they will not be successful. We want especially the unsuccessful applicants to know that the process was fair, and have confidence that although they didn’t get the grant that the process was fair.

“And I think it’s safe to say that right now Edison has raised some serious questions that need to be fairly and independently investigated.”

The Auditor General of B.C.’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the situation. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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